Building your own gaming PC is so much better than buying a premade one, and please, let’s not even talk about laptops. If you assemble your own rig, you’ll have the freedom to choose parts from brands you trust. And if you’re resourceful enough, you can come up with a rig that performs just as well, if not better, than branded premades that cost twice as much.
But while you have the freedom to choose whatever parts you want, there are some key things to bear in mind when building a gaming rig. Below is a checklist on how to build your own gaming PC.
Budget and Titles that will be Played
The great thing about sourcing your own parts is that you can tailor it to your budget. It doesn’t matter if you only have $250 or $5000, there’s a gaming PC that can be built with that money.
Of course, with a limited budget comes limited options. You’d be hard-pressed to set-up anything decent with a budget below $250. Of course, it can be done, but for that price, you’ll have to either find used parts that are priced way cheaper than the brand new ones or make-do with platforms that are 2-3 generations behind the current ones.
The sweet spot for a good tower is around $800. With this budget, you can get the latest consumer-grade processors, at least 8GB of RAM, an SSD and a decent graphics card.
The titles you want to play at the resolution and frames you want to play them at will dictate the graphics card you need. If you’re just going to spend all day on MMORPG games, such as WoW, and MOBAs like Dota 2, some mid-range graphics cards would be more than enough. If you want to play more demanding games, you’ll probably need something from the premium range.
Read our article about gaming monitors here
AMD or Intel
- Choosing a Processor
For the processor, there’re no two ways about it, you need to go with Intel. AMD has not released anything for the outside of its APU line since the FX-9000 series that was made available in the second half of 2013. While AMD APUs offer good performance for their value, they still get bested by the conventional CPU-discrete graphics card combo. A good proof of concept would be an Intel Pentium G3258 – Nvidia GTX 750 Ti going up against an AMD A10-7850K APU.
Given the choice between higher clock rates and more cores, go for the former after 4 cores. Most of the current titles can’t make use of anything that goes beyond 4 cores.
If you’re going for a brand new CPU, the Intel Core i7-6700k, which sits at the top of the Skylake line, is a good option. A more expensive option Core i7-6950X, which is the current king of Intel’s enthusiast-grade processors.
For used ones, the second and third generation of Intel processors should do just fine. In fact, an i5-2500k clocked at 4.5 Ghz will still produce an average of 60 FPS on GTA V when coupled with a GTX 970 graphics card.
- Choosing a Graphics Card
The graphics card is where a lot of debate happens since both Nvidia and AMD have offerings that perform well. Boiling down the most recent debate, Nvidia’s latest top of the line release is the GTX 1080, which retails for roughly $600, while AMD’s latest offering is a modest $200 card known as the Radeon RX480. However, putting two RX480s in Crossfire almost doubles a single R480’s performance, which is near what the GTX 1080 outputs. This is based on benchmarks done by JayzTwoCents.
Hence, if you’re looking for the creme of the crop, get a GTX 1080. If you’re looking for something a little cheaper, the Radeon RX480 with its Crossfire performance should do just fine.
There are a lot of motherboards from good brands. Asus, Gigabyte and MSI are popular ones. There’s really not that much performance difference between a $100 motherboard and $300 one. The latter just has way more ports and additional features that are not present with the budget motherboard. Often times, much pricier boards also have better aesthetics than the cheaper ones, which is why modders are after them.
Another thing to consider with motherboards is the upgradability. If you want something that scales and is upgradable, get a processor-motherboard combo that’s coupled with plenty of DDR4 memory slots and PCI Express slots, which opens up the option of running multiple graphics cards on SLI and Crossfire as long as the MoBo supports them.
This will heavily depend on your component. A single-graphics-card system will be good with a 600-watt PSU. Ones running multiple cards may need an 800-watt PSU or higher. Corsair, Silverstone, Seasonic, EVGA, Zalman, Gigabyte and Thermaltake are some of the most popular brands. Just make sure that they’re at least 80+ gold certified. The Corsair SF450 is the 2016 top pick of most review outlets.
After securing these parts, all that needs to be done is assemble them, which should be a breeze. If you’re not certain about things, check the multitude of online guides that offer step-by-step instructions on how to build your own gaming PC, and PCs for that matter.